If you haven’t yet seen our post from last week, introducing our new ADoor Nashville blog series, catch up here before reading on. We shared a photo of our first door (see below!) and asked for guesses on what historic Nashville landmark greets you with that set of doors.
The doors above belong to the Scarritt Bennett Center here in Nashville. Were you right? Kudos if you were! The Scarritt Bennett Center is a breathtaking building located on 19th Ave. designed in a modified Collegiate Gothic style by architect Henry Hibbs. No doubt Hibbs work produced a building that has become a Nashville landmark, a place that is hard to miss and beautiful to see.
So what is the history behind this incredible Nashville landmark and its set of doors? For starters, it is named after Dr. Nathan Scarritt and Belle Harris Bennett, the founders of the original Scarritt Bible and Training School. Scarritt Bible and Training School was founded in Kansas City, Missouri with the purpose of training young women missionaries. In 1924, it relocated here to Nashville where it was transformed into the Scarritt College for Christian Workers. Several buildings of the campus – Scarritt Hall, Bennett Hall, the Tower and the Chapel – were built between 1924 and 1927 with funds raised by the Woman’s Missionary Societies and the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Local funds provided what was needed to build the Dining Hall, which was also constructed at the same time.
At Scarritt, students were trained and taught about different cultures, languages and traditions. A diverse student and staff body provided the perfect atmosphere for an enriched learning experience and it has been said that the skills acquired on the campus equipped men and women to function in the midst of wars, famine, and severe poverty as they served in countries needing assistance.
Through this atmosphere, the legacy that holds true today as the Center’s mission was founded: “promoting and advocating social justice, multi-cultural understanding and diversity awareness.”
In 1981, Scarritt College became Scarritt Graduate School and began to provide educational degrees in Music and Christian Education. The legacy of the school’s mission continued to seep through everything it offered. Scarritt College even hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke on campus in Wightman Chapel during the infamous Civil Rights movement, where instruction on peaceful demonstration was provided to students and staff members.
In 1988, the college closed and the campus was purchased by the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church. The 10 acres of buildings and grounds became Scaritt-Bennett Center, under the direction of the Scaritt-Bennett Center Board.
The Scarritt Bennett Center was then organized in 1988 as a non-profit conference, retreat and educational center. From the beginning, it was committed to “empowerment through cross-cultural understanding, education, creativity and spiritual renewal.”
To this day, the Scarritt Bennett Center continues to open its doors, welcome, and embrace any and all peoples without discrimination of any kind. It remains dedicated to the legacy of Scarritt College and Scarritt Graduate School and all those missionaries, educators and musicians who sought training and education at the Center by continuing to provide a safe, comfortable place for those who desire to seek refuge in an a welcoming and nurturing environment. It is available for use by all faiths and cultures and continues to be conducive and welcoming to open dialogue, questions and conversations between peoples of diverse backgrounds.
Aside from its rich, historical background, the Scarritt Bennett Center acts as a popular venue for all sorts of events, from weddings to music videos to photo shoots to conferences as well as providing overnight accommodation for guests in its residence halls.
Scarritt Bennett is within walking distance of Music Row, Vanderbilt, area shops and restaurants; is just minutes from Hillsboro Village, Bridgestone Arena, LP Field, and downtown; and is 15 minutes from Nashville International airport. Parking at the Center is complimentary.
For more information about the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, please click here.